The World Rally-Raid Championship‘s T3 category is enjoying a streak of parity to begin 2023 as all three rounds have been won by a different driver, even if they’re all Red Bull team-mates.
The streak continued as Mitch Guthrie scored his maiden W2RC victory at the Sonora Rally, edging out Mattias Ekström by less than seven minutes. Guthrie, who is no stranger to the Mexican desert as the 2017 Baja 1000 UTV overall winner, remains third in the T3 standings behind fellow American Red Bull drivers Seth Quintero and Austin Jones, but the gap to the leader is cut in more than half from forty-six after Abu Dhabi to twenty.
Ekström, racing in T3 for the second straight race, had the early advantage as he won the first and third stages while the Red Bull factory racers squabbled amongst themselves. However, Guthrie hit his stride and won Stage #4 to take the overall lead while Ekström had an off-day and placed sixth. Guthrie entered the final day leading Ekström by 1:09, and the margin ended up growing to six-and-a-half minutes when the latter got stuck in traffic and suffered a tyre puncture.
“Super excited to take the overall win at the Sonora Rally,” wrote Guthrie. “Thanks to the whole team for all their hard work. It was a battle the entire rally and we’re stoked! This is a big win for us and see you on the next one.”
Settling for runner-up in the final stage meant Ekström was the lone driver to hold second overall in consecutive legs. The position traded hands multiple times starting with João Ferreira, who broke up the Can-Am party in his Yamaha after placing second to Guthrie in the Prologue before an electrical issue and water pump failure knocked him off the spot the following day. Francisco Lopéz Contardo won Stage #2 to assume second, only to lose it to a broken front axle thirty kilometres into the third leg. Cristina Gutiérrez moved up into second thanks to her top five run until Guthrie overtook Ekström in the penultimate stage.
Jones snuck onto the podium on the final day when he finished fifth, 1:35 ahead of Lopéz and seven minutes on Gutiérrez. With Quintero’s struggles while Guillaume de Mévius and Hernán Garcés are part-timers, Jones is the only driver in T3 to score podium finishes in all three rounds to date, winning the Dakar Rally and placing second at the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge. Red Bull colleague Rokas Baciuška in T4, Paolo Lucci in Rally2, and Laisvydas Kancius in Quad have also achieved the feat.
Gutiérrez and Lopéz respectively finished fourth and fifth, the latter virtually out of contention after his Stage #3 problems and half an hour back of Gutiérrez. Lopéz, the reigning W2RC T3 champion, was making his racing return after skipping Abu Dhabi to focus on fatherhood.
Quintero had a difficult rally as his Can-Am was plagued by mechanical issues from the first stage. He had to settle for tenth, which bumped him up to ninth since sixth-placed Diego Martinez is not racing for W2RC points, and still holds the championship lead over Jones even if by just one point.
David Zille was the only driver not named Guthrie or Ekström to win a stage as he closed out the rally with his second career stage victory (the first came at the Dakar Rally). He was classified eighth as a broken hub in Stage #4 eliminated him from contention; Zille had been fifth overall prior to the issue.
T3 overall results
|1||302||Mitch Guthrie||Kellon Walch||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||11:17:24||Leader|
|2||308||Mattias Ekström||Emil Bergkvist||South Racing Can-Am||11:24:02||+ 6:38|
|3||301||Austin Jones||Gustavo Gugelmin||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||11:28:10||+ 10:46|
|4||304||Cristina Gutiérrez||Pablo Moreno Huete||Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing||11:30:02||+ 12:38|
|5||303||Francisco Lopéz Contardo||Juan Pablo Latrach||Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing||11:58:54||+ 41:30|
|6||311||Diego Martinez*||Sergio Lafuente||South Racing Can-Am||12:11:42||+ 54:18|
|7||305||João Ferreira||Filipe Palmeiro||X-raid Team||12:16:18||+ 58:54|
|8||307||David Zille||Sebastian Cesana||South Racing Can-Am||12:59:28||+ 1:42:04|
|9||309||Annett Quandt||Lisette Bakker||X-raid Team||13:00:31||+ 1:43:07|
|10||300||Seth Quintero||Dennis Zenz||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||13:07:02||+ 1:49:38|
|11||306||Claude Fournier||Szymon Gospodarczyk||Team BBR||13:26:24||+ 2:09:00|
T3 stage winners
|T1||201||Nasser Al-Attiyah||Toyota Gazoo Racing||10:29:55|
|T3||302||Mitch Guthrie||Red Bull Off-Road Junior Team||11:17:24|
|T4||400||Rokas Baciuška||Red Bull Can-Am Factory Racing||11:51:05|
|RallyGP||18||Daniel Sanders||Red Bull GasGas Factory Racing||11:01:09|
|Rally2||17||Romain Dumontier||HT Rally Raid Husqvarna Racing||11:48:21|
|Rally3||57||Massimo Camurri||Freedom Rally Racing||15:59:16|
|Quad||162||Laisvydas Kancius||AG Dakar School||15:33:14|
|National Car/UTV||605||Sara Price*||SP Motorsports||17:14:04|
|National Enduro||513||Brendan Crow*||Brendan Crow||16:37:36|
|National Malle Moto||501||Matt Sutherland*||Matt Sutherland||18:24:08|
W2RC T3 standings
|2||Seth Quintero||145||– 1|
|3||Mitch Guthrie||126||– 20|
|T-4||Cristina Gutiérrez||78||– 68|
|T-4||Francisco López Contardo||78||– 68|
|6||João Ferreira||74||– 72|
|7||Mattias Ekström||54||– 92|
|8||Claude Fournier||42||– 104|
|T-9||Jean-Luc Ceccaldi||41||– 105|
|T-9||David Zille||41||– 105|
|11||Aliyyah Koloc||34||– 112|
|12||Hélder Rodrigues||22||– 124|
|13||Annett Quandt||20||– 126|
|14||Dania Akeel||15||– 131|
|15||Erik van Loon||13||– 133|
Some co-drivers have worked with drivers in other categories. Those do not count for this championship nor are they mentioned below.
Pablo Moreno Huete
Juan Pablo Latrach
Francisco López Contardo
Dania Akeel, Diego Martinez*
Erik van Loon